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Holden Building

16 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Holden Building; City of Vancouver 2004
front facade
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Other Name(s)

Holden Building
Century Tower
Tellier Tower

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1910/01/01 to 1911/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/08/27

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Holden Building is a ten-storey masonry Chicago-style office building located on East Hastings Street within the historic district of Gastown in Vancouver.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Holden Building lies in the historic relationship between this area and the economy of early Vancouver. When the City of Vancouver became the entrepot between the Canadian Pacific Railway and trans-Pacific shipping in 1887, Gastown was its hub. The Holden Building is associated with Gastown’s history as a mixed-use district. As the city grew, so did its commercial district. While the main retail district was expanding south and west along Granville Street, East Hastings Street was the home of a second retail and commercial strip.

The building was designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway and constructed by John Coughlan and Sons (Structural Steelworks) in 1910-1911. The building’s original owner, William Holden, was a real estate agent and investment broker, and one of Vancouver’s wealthiest capitalists. He was known as 'the man who built Granville Street'.

Between 1924 and 1936, the Holden Building served as the site of Vancouver’s City Hall. City architect A.J. Bird made numerous alterations, including the conversion of the fifth floor into a council chamber, but no trace of the building’s civic service remains visible today. In the 1930s, the building housed several trade union headquarters and offices of political parties, as well as medical professionals and lawyers.

The Holden Building was refurbished in 1988 as a cooperative residence for local seniors, organized by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA), a community advocacy group made up of local residents committed to supporting each other and lobbying on behalf of their neighbourhood. Many of the original architectural details were discovered during the rehabilitation process and restored wherever possible. The involvement of DERA, especially at a time when many had given up on the area, is of key significance to the social history of the neighborhood and the city.

After the rehabilitation, the building was renamed Tellier Tower in honor of Gerald Tellier, a merchant seaman and trade unionist who worked in the relief camps for the unemployed in the 1930s . He helped to organize the unemployed and was one of the founders of the 'On to Ottawa' trek.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Holden Building include:
- its siting on the property lines with no setbacks
- the I-shaped plan, with light wells on the west and east facades to provide daylight to interior rooms.
- Chicago style architectural features, including the tripartite design of the facade, rusticated stone pilasters at either side of the facade, and a third pilaster defining the entrance to the lobby and upper levels, decorated arch entry at east end of facade with HOLDEN BUILDING inscribed above the highly-decorated Romanesque arch, pattern of fenestration with one-over-one double hung sash on upper storeys, and richly-decorated spandrel panels
- interior details, including marble walls and mosaic tile floors



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1924/01/01 to 1936/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

William Tuff Whiteway


John Coughlan and Sons

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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